Recently, while standing in the line-up at the grocery store, I overheard the following interchange between the customer and the sales clerk:
- "Do you have your shopping bags?"
- "Bags? Ohhhh, I forgot them in the car."
This woman had good intentions - her reusable shopping bags were one step closer to being used. However, she had not yet made the transition from a intention to a habit.
When you stop at a Starbucks or Tim Hortons, do you remember to bring in and hand over your travel-java mug? If you're staying in-situ to imbibe, are you saying, "For here!" so you can be given a ceramic mug instead?
From shopping bags to travel mugs. From reducing to reusing. A large part of going green has to do with building and reinforcing these resourceful habits.
There is a forest-full of ideas available that help you incorporate the 3 Rs into your daily life.
To effect change, remember awareness, knowledge and practice. The woman in the first example had the knowledge part; she was lacking awareness (I'm going into the store, so I need to bring my bags with me) and practice (repeated action of bringing the bags into the store).
Recognize that you wish to change your actions and then repeat the new behaviour until it requires no effort to remember. In other words, it becomes a no-brainer - you don't have to think about it; you just do.
In the late eighties, when the green movement was beginning to grow, my friend gave me an aptly-coloured recyclable shopping bag. In the beginning, I'd forget more often than I'd remember; gradually the habit took root.
Stress can get in the way of your habits. You forget to do and practice the things you want to do and practice. Instead, you find your focus is misdirected and your ill-stress-related health may be taking a front row seat, clamouring for attention that could be otherwise put to good use, such as cultivating daily environmental habits.
Earth Day is a good day to turn over a new leaf, learn some stress techniques and in the process, help the earth. You feel better, so you'll do better - emotionally, mentally, physically and environmentally!